The Environment Agency of Iceland has registered the condition of nature preservation areas at the request of the Ministry for the Environment. The report shows that the condition of some of Iceland’s most treasured areas is extremely poor.
Gullfoss. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
“We are facing the serious situation that the inroad of some of our most valuable areas is such that they are losing their preservation status and might not be the future attractions the tourist industry needs them to be,” Minister for the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir told Fréttabladid.
It is considered necessary to take immediate action to protect nine preserved areas, including Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir hot spring area, the highland area between Fjallabak and Landmannalaugar and the popular hiking route Laugavegur. Eight other areas made the Environment Agency’s watch list.
Svavarsdóttir said it is important to create a basis, for example a source of income, for taking better care of preserved areas. “If these areas mentioned here lose their preservation value to a greater extent than is currently the case, we might have to limit access to them.”
On RÚV’s news magazine Kastljós the Geysir area was mentioned specifically. Safety measures are lacking—earlier this year a young girl suffered serious burns after falling into the runoff of a hot spring—and people toss coins and even garbage into the springs.
Divisional manager at the Environment Agency Ólafur Arnar Jónsson said some improvements have already been made, such as replacing all ropes around the hot springs and putting up signs warning people how hot the water is. Further improvements are impending, he said.
Click here to read the full list of places in poor condition, divided into a “red list” (the first list) and an “orange list” depending on the seriousness of the situation.